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Dolly, Goats, and More: The 58th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards Recap

Credit: Steve Kwak – Maryland GovPics

It’s that time of year again, country fans! The 58th annual Academy of Country Music Awards are back and as exciting as ever.  This year’s even was hostedx by Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks from The Star in Frisco Texas.

The Performances

With some of the hottest artists and most dynamic showmen and women in the house, it’s no surprise the stage was continually packed with jaw-dropping performances. Keith Urban opened the show with his hit “Texas Time,” a very fitting choice given the location of this year’s awards. Accompanied by a wild light show and his band, Keith belted out the lyrics before wowing the crowd with his absurd guitar skills. He even began levitating on a raised platform as he played. 

Shortly after, another country sensation, Garth Brooks, took the stage and introduced his co-host, Dolly Parton.  The undisputed queen of country was referred to as “The GOAT” (greatest of all time) by Brooks, and just after, she joined him on stage wheeling a live goat behind her.

Later in the show, mainstay Miranda Lambert demonstrated her timeless skill in performing her hit “Carousel.” Aside from her spectacular stage presence, the crowd was also impressed with her large, fluffed-up and flowing gown. To everyone’s surprise, Ed Sheeran also joined the lineup, marking his debut appearance at the awards. The pop artist played a song from his new album called “Life Goes On” alongside his longtime friend, Luke Combs. Lainey Wilson also pulled out her eclectic fashion sense and bold stage presence to regale the audience with her rendition of “Grease” from the iconic musical.

Finally, Dolly Parton closed out the show with a song titled “World on Fire” from her upcoming rock album. She appeared on stage with a massive white dress the size of a literal parachute with the earth printed on it. The song is stellar, with a strong message and even stronger sonics. It has a similar vibe to Jon Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive,” or Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.” All in all, it was an exhilarating evening packed with laughs, great music, and crazy styles. Now let’s get into the winners.

Winners

First up, Entertainer of the Year, which featured a star-studded list to choose from. The nominees included Jason Aldean, Kane Brown, Luke Combs, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Morgan Wallen, and Chris Stapleton. Stapleton took home the award thanks to his insane voice, classic yet updated country style, and undeniable charisma.

Next, the nominees for Female Artist of the Year included Kelsea Ballerini, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, Ashley McBryde, and Carly Pearce. Lainey Wilson won the award. She’s no stranger to this type of praise, having won two ACM awards in 2021.

The Male Artist of the Year category was just as packed with talent as its female counterpart. The list featured Kane Brown, Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen, Jordan Davis, and Chris Stapleton. After reviving his career this past year in a big way, Morgan Wallen was awarded with this honor.

The Duo of the Year category showcased the many now-iconic partnerships in the genre. Featured in this category were Brothers Osborne, Brooks and Dunn, Dan + Shay, Maddie + Tae, and The War and the Treaty. Brothers Osborne took home the prize for the second year in a row.

Another much-anticipated category is Group of the Year. This time, we had Lady A, Little Big Town, Old Dominion, Midland, and Zac Brown Band. While there was steep competition among these ranks, Old Dominion secured the prize for themselves.

One of the more exciting aspects of the awards is checking out the blossoming talent of the next generation.  Featured this year in the New Female Artist category were Hailey Whitters, Priscillla Block, Megan Moroney, Caitlyn Smith, and Morgan Wade.  Certainly tough to pick from, but in the end, Hailey Whitters was awarded the honor.

The New Male Artist category was just as contentious as the female, and it really seemed like it could be anyone’s game.  Jackson Dean, Ernest, Dylan Scott, Nate Smith, Bailey Zimmerman, and Zach Bryan were all featured for this years award.  Zach Bryan impressed fans and critics alike with his alternative country style this year, and deservedly took home the prize.

Album of the Year was packed with great releases to choose from. Ashley McByrde Presents: Lindeville, Growin’ Up from Luke Combs, Mr. Saturday Night from John Pardi, Palomino from Miranda Lambert, and Bell Bottom Country from Lainey Wilson were all featured. Not surprisingly, Wilson’s hillbilly hippie sensibilities secured her the win.

Single of the Year brought us a lot of familiar favorites along with several first-time nominees. This category included “Heart Like a Truck” by Lainey Wilson, “Never Wanted to Be That Girl” by Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “She Had Me at Heads Carolina” by Cole Swindell, “Thank God” by Kane Brown with Katelyn Brown, and “‘Til You Can’t” by Cody Johnson. “She Had Me at Heads Carolina” took home the prize for this category.

Song of the Year also had a wide variety of entries.  This year it included “Sand In My Boots” by Morgan Wallen, She Had Me at Heads Carolina” by Cole Swindell, “‘Til You Can’t” by Cody Johnson, “Wait in the Truck” by HARDY feat. Lainey Wilson, and “You Should Probably Leave” by Chris Stapleton. Impressively, Cole Swindell took home this award as well.

Song Writer of the Year celebrated the behind-the-scenes lyricists of the genre. The category included Nicolle Galyon, Ashley Gorley, Chase McGill, Josh Osborne, and Hunter Phelps. Ashley Gorley’s skill and creativity paid off and earned her the award this year.

Lastly, for this ceremony was the Music Event of the Year award. Featured in this category were “At the End of a Bar” from Chris Young with Mitchell Tenpenny, “She Had Me at Heads Carolina [Remix]” from Cole Swindell & Jo Dee Messina, “Thank God” from Kane Brown with Katelyn Brown, “Thinking ‘Bout You” from Dustin Lynch feat. MacKenzie Porter, and “Wait in the Truck” from. HARDY feat. Lainey Wilson. Hardy and Lainey Wilson took home the prize for their collaboration on “Wait in the Truck”

That does it for this year’s awards. Be sure to check out artists you haven’t heard of and rewind with some classics wherever you stream your music.

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